This same situation has played out on various campuses. This year, a videotape showed Hunter College professor Shellyne Rodríguez trashing a pro-life student display in New York. Most were focused on her profanity and vandalism, but there were familiar phrases that appeared in her diatribe to the clearly shocked students.
Before trashing the table, she told the students, “You’re not educating s–t […] This is f–king propaganda. What are you going to do, like, anti-trans next? This is bulls–t. This is violent. You’re triggering my students.”
The videotape revealed one other thing. At Hunter College, and at other colleges, it seems that trashing a pro-life student display and abusing pro-life students is not considered a firing offense. Hunter College refused to fire Rodríguez.
The PSC Graduate Center, the labor organization of graduate and professional schools at the City University of New York, supported that decision and said Rodríguez was “justified” in trashing the display, which the organization described as “dangerously false propaganda” and “disinformation.”
Rodríguez later put a machete to the neck of a reporter, threatened to chop him up and then chased a news crew down a street with the machete in hand. Somewhere between the machete to the neck and chasing the reporters down the street, Hunter College finally decided that Rodríguez had to go.
Rodríguez denounced the school for having “capitulated” to “racists, white nationalists, and misogynists.” She explained that her firing was just a continuation of “attacks on women, trans people, black people, Latinx people, migrants, and beyond.”
Other professors have also engaged in trashing or shutting down pro-life displays.
To have this anti-free speech action taken in advance of a visit by Vice President Kamala Harris is particularly concerning. There has been no statement issued by the Vice President on the need to ensure free expression on both sides of the abortion issue. I imagine that, if a pro-choice display was shut down, the Vice President would have reacted immediately to the denial of free speech.
As a state school, the First Amendment directly applies to the actions and politics of the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. While it was not the university that shut down the display, there is the question of its failure to support the exercise of free speech on campus.